James Murdo - A Galactic Space-Mystery
James Murdo was born and raised in London, where he still lives. He graduated from university with a Masters degree in Physics, which added fuel to his early love of science fiction. Fractured Carapace is a stand-alone novel within the same (Wanderer) universe as the general Wanderers series. As our Author of the Day, Murdo tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Fractured Carapace is about.
It’s a galactic space-mystery, which complements the main ‘Wanderers series’, and is also a stand-alone. There’s a disappeared star system, a water-world containing mysterious ‘Riser’ creatures that form a living blanket above the ocean, and the curious Chitchi race who have established a research station there.
Tell us more about the Wanderer Universe.
The Wanderer Universe is my view of the ‘galactic community’, and all other galaxies within the universe, and takes its name from the main Wanderers series (wherein the Wanderer civilisation features).
The Wanderer civilisation is predominantly comprised of intelligent machines, and has self-tasked itself with scouring the galaxy in its attempts to defeat the ‘sensespace’, which is a scourge that has caused incredible devastation and loss of life.
Despite ‘Fractured Carapace’ not involving the Wanderer civilisation per se, it still takes place within the same Wanderer Universe – long before the Wanderers existed.
What’s the smallest carrot you’ve ever eaten?
What inspired you to write about an entire star system that vanished?
Probably a mixture of subconscious and conscious factors! I’m a physics enthusiast, especially with regards to anything space-related, and I love reading about galactic mysteries. I also wanted to use the storyline to add colour to many of the themes and ideas I touch upon in the Wanderers series (such as the Ascended Biologicals and how their approach to interference, or lack of, with the galactic community is perceived).
The vanishing star system was also a device I wanted to use to be able to explore how a civilisation might go about rebuilding (psychologically and physically), and the contrasts that might bring.
Why did you title the book "Fractured Carapace"?
For multiple reasons that you’ll have to read the book to find out!
Dinner with 3 people – who?
That’s a tough one, because there are thousands of people I’d like to quiz. Having said (/typed) that, my attempt to whittle down to 3. Please note, I’d give a completely different answer tomorrow, or in 10 minutes.
- Isaac Newton (pre-apple)
- Elvis Presley (pre-fame)
- Grigori Rasputin (pre-assassination)
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
- Known to close friends as the “Hyena-Whisperer”;
- Created diamonds in microwave on a Sunday evening out of pure curiosity;
- Accidentally navigated through impenetrable caving system on brief hike after becoming lost;
- Internationally dubbed “heir to Mozart” from recorded sleep-whistles;
- 10th degree double-Dan obsidian belt Taekwondo expert;
- Reinvented the computer whilst fiddling with calculator;
- Didn’t realise lifting a full-grown elephant with one hand was a big deal.
- On a less comical (and arguably more truthful) note, I enjoy cooking.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
Removing overly scientific explanations at the behest of beta readers. Didn’t stop me trying.
Do you have any children?
Not in the traditional sense:
What did you have the most fun with when writing this book?
Without giving too much away, some of the ideas about genetic manipulation and its consequences.
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
YES. There are only so many ways to describe crawling, scuttling, etc. As an author, you want your work to be authentic, but you don’t want to simply substitute every word that readers currently use for an alien equivalent. So creativity is key. This can be problematic, but usually it’s just incredibly fun.
Many people dismiss the genre as pure escapism—and nothing more. What would you say is the purpose of sci-fi?"
I’d perhaps quibble that it should more correctly be termed “immersivism” since it’s not really about escaping, but entering and enjoying. Otherwise, I completely agree that it’s complete escapism – that’s not a negative.
Are there any books or writers that have influenced your work?
Absolutely loads. Too many to list them all here for fear of missing others out. I love many of the great, and lesser-known sci-fi authors. One who I don’t believe gets enough recognition is Sergei Lukyanenko (Sci-Fi and Fantasy), although I may be wrong with that.
As a child, I was obsessed with myths (predominantly the Greek myths). Due to that, two works have stuck with me. All of JRR Tolkien’s LOTR-related books (for his expert crafting of a mythology that I believe was originally intended to serve as an imagined history of the UK), and Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus’ (which horrified and fascinated me).
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I’ve yet to establish a routine. Sometimes I outline the plot first, sometimes I delve straight in. One thing I use consistently though is music – different genres to put me into specific moods for certain types of writing. It’s incredibly useful!
What are you working on right now?
Another stand-alone within the Wanderer Universe. If you enjoy your space mysteries and/or stories within established Sci-Fi universes, then it’ll be one for you!
Where can our readers discover more of our work or interact with you?
There are four books currently out from the Wanderer Universe:
Book 1: Gil’s World – www.amazon.com/dp/B079NBFC1H/
Book 2: Searching the Void – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CGYKP37/
Book 3: Infinite Eyes – www.amazon.com/dp/B07HM2D6XN/
Stand-alone: Fractured Carapace – www.amazon.com/dp/B07MZZCK5W/
My website: www.jamesmurdo.com
You can connect with me at:
What’s the strangest journey you’ve ever taken?
It was either a psychedelic tunnel ride underneath the Bund in Shanghai, or a black hole. I haven’t completely figured it out yet. The ride was very gimmicky and the reviews said things like “lower your expectations, and then prepare to be disappointed.” We thought, ‘nothing’s that bad’. We were disappointed, but in a strange way, it was fun.